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What is Eczema?

Eczema is a group of skin conditions which can affect all age groups. The severity of the eczema can vary. In mild forms the skin is dry, hot and itchy. In severe forms the skin can become broken, raw and bleeding.

Although eczema can sometimes look unpleasant, it is not contagious. With treatment the inflammation of eczema can be reduced. However, the skin will always be sensitive to flare-ups and need extra care.

Eczema is also called dermatitis.

Symptoms of Eczema

Some of the most common symptoms of eczema are:

  • severe itchiness
  • dry skin
  • redness skin
  • inflamed skin

Treatment options for Eczema

Eczema can be treated but not cured. Treatments are aimed to reduce the severity of the symptoms. The treatment will depend on the type of eczema. Common treatments are emollients and steroids. Emollients help maintain skin hydration. Steroids help reduce inflammation. 

What Causes Eczema?

There are many causes of eczema. The causes of eczema depends on the particular type of eczema that a person has.

Kinds of Eczema

The main types of eczema are:

  • Atopic eczema
  • Allergic contact dermatitis
  • Irritant contact dermatitis
  • Infantile seborrhoeic eczema
  • Adult seborrhoeic eczema
  • Varicose eczema
  • Discoid eczema

Atopic eczema is the most common form of eczema. It is hereditary and commonly linked with asthma and hay fever.

Allergic contact dermatitis develops when the body’s immune system reacts against a substance in contact with the skin. The allergic reaction often develops over a period of time through repeated contact with the substance. Some common substances the skin reacts to is nickel, perfumes and rubber.

Irritant contact dermatitis is a type of eczema caused by frequent contact with everyday substances, such as detergents and chemicals, which are irritating to the skin.

Infantile seborrhoeic eczema is a common condition affecting babies under one year old, the exact cause of which is unknown. Infantile seborrhoeic eczema is also called cradle cap. It usually starts on the scalp and quickly spreads.

Adult seborrhoeic eczema usually affects adults between the ages of 20 and 40. It is usually seen on the scalp as mild dandruff, but can spread to the face, ears and chest. Adult seborrhoeic eczema is caused by a yeast growth.

Varicose eczema affects the lower legs people in their middle to late years. It is caused by poor circulation. Commonly the skin around the ankles is affected, becoming speckled, itchy and inflamed. The most common treatments are emollients and steroid creams. If varicose eczema is left untreated, the skin can break down, resulting in an ulcer.

Discoid eczema Is usually found in adults and appears suddenly as a few coin shaped areas of red skin, normally on the trunk or lower legs. The skin becomes very itchy.

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